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to them. But, even were Spain to agree, he very much doubted whether the United States would bring to the discussion the same desire to agree and the same views as to the preservation of the ancient monarchy of Spain as animated the other Powers. In conclusion, he objected altogether to the proposed conferences at Madrid, and gave it as his opinion that no settlement was possible which did not take into account the wishes of the colonies as well as those of Spain.
The matter was finally settled in an interview between Alexander and Castlereagh. Castlereagh was entirely opposed to the use of force. The Alliance, he said, was not competent to arbitrate or judge, and was therefore not competent to enforce any such judgment directly or indirectly; it could only mediate or facilitate, but not compel or menace. As for the commercial boycott (to use a word of later date), which had been suggested, Great Britain could be no party to it. We had had a large direct trade with France during the war, and had suffered her armies to be clothed by our manufactures; how could we interdict commerce with South America in time of peace? Since Russia could not fight either by arms or by an interdict on trade, it would be better to tell Spain so at once than to buoy her up by false hopes in the maintenance of a false attitude. There was, besides, the moral responsibility involved in forcing the colonies to submit to such a Government as that of Spain.
It was the last argument, wrote Castlereagh, which made Alexander's mind "shrink from the subject." He expressed his regret that he had not taken the British minister's advice before the matter had been carried so far. As it was, he at once conferred with his ministers, with the result that at the next conference their tone was so altered that Richelieu withdrew his project. Thus ended the question so far as the Conference of Aix-la-Chapelle was concerned."
Monroe on the conference
In his annual message to Congress of November 16, 1818, President Monroe used the following language:
By a circular note addressed by the ministers of Spain to the allied powers, with whom they are respectively accredited, it appears that the allies have undertaken to mediate between Spain and the South American Provinces, and that the manner and extent of their interposition would be settled by a congress which was to have met at Aix-la-Chapelle in September last. From the general policy and course of proceeding observed by the allied powers in regard to this contest it is inferred that they will confine their interposition to the expression of their sentiments, abstaining from the application of force. I state this impression that force will not be applied with the greater satisfaction because it is a course more consistent with justice and likewise authorizes a hope that the calamities of the war will be confined to the parties only, and will be of shorter duration.
From the view taken of this subject, founded on all the information that we have been able to obtain, there is good cause to be satisfied with the course heretofore pursued by the United States in regard to this contest, and to conclude that it is proper to adhere to it, especially in the present state of affairs.
Phillips, The Confederation of Europe, pp. 254-258.
55 Richardson's Messages and Papers of the Presidents, vol. II, p. 44.
Gallatin's report on the conference
On August 10, 1818, prior to the meeting of the conference, Gallatin, writing from Paris to John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State, made the following report of a conversation he had with the Duc de Richelieu:
On the subject of the proposed mediation between Spain and her colonies, the Duke de Richelieu said that nothing positive was done, and that, in his opinion, nothing efficient could be done without us; he wished, therefore, to know what were our views in that respect. 1 answered that, nothing having been communicated to our government by any of the powers concerned in the mediation, no official communication could be expected from us; that whenever the allied powers, or any of them, should think proper to state their views on that subject, the overture would be met with a corresponding frankness; and that it appeared desirable in every respect that such free and mutual communications should take place. In the mean while, it was due to candor to say that, so far as I was able to judge, no expectation could be entertained that the United States would become parties in the proposed mediation, much less that they would accede to any measures having for object the restoration of the supremacy of Spain over the colonies which had thrown off her yoke. I added that it was understood that the allied powers did not intend to use force in order to compel the parties to accept their mediation, and that it appeared to me alike impracticable to obtain the consent of Spain to such liberal basis as it was intended to propose, and to persuade the inhabitants of the colonies to trust her and place themselves at her mercy. The Duke dwelt on the want of union among the insurgents, on their factions and weakness, on their unfitness for liberty, and on their incapacity of forming any permanent government whatever; he then suggested that if some prince of the Spanish family (the son of the ci-devant Queen of Etruria was mentioned) was sent over to America as an independent monarch, it might reconcile the inhabitants and be consistent with our views. I answered that on that last point my government alone could decide; that with the form of government which suited the colonies, or which any of them might select, we had nothing to do; that it was only to the preservation of their independence that I had alluded; and that it appeared to me doubtful whether a Spanish prince would be considered as securing that. As to the capacity of the colonists to form a government sufficient to carry on their business and to entertain foreign relations, I expressed my astonishment that any doubt could exist on that point, and mentioned San Domingo as a proof that even slaves could establish governments of their own, totally independent, at least of their masters. If there was any chance that Spanish America could be kept much longer under the dominion of Spain, why did she not do at once, where she was still in possession, that which was to be offered by the mediators to the insurgent colonies? No mediation was required for that; and nothing prevented her from opening the commerce of Cuba, Mexico, and Peru, from introducing in these, the three most productive and important of her colonies, all the improved administration, all the liberal laws and institutions, which were held out as the basis of the mediation. To these last observations the Duke of Richelieu seemed to assent and to blame Spain for not pursuing a wiser course. But, after all, they cannot yet here reconcile themselves to the general and unavoidable emancipation of America. I had, at the request of the Russian minister, an interview with him yesterday, which 102401-30
embraced the same topics and had nearly the same aspect. This is not astonish ing, considering the intimacy which exists between Russia and France, and more particularly between this Cabinet and Pozzo. (Of this I cannot give a better proof than by stating that he had read the whole of the correspondence of Mr. Hyde de Neuville with this government. It is, by the by, friendly to us, and has made a favorable impression here.) Still, there were some differences and additions. (Pozzo still insists that our negotiation has been renewed at Madrid. He said that there were difficulties in our obtaining Florida, but did not explain whether they came from Spain, England, or his own Court. He considered the plan of sending a Spanish prince to America as chimerical; complained bitterly of the folly of Spain, and appeared to me to have almost abandoned the hope that a mediation would be agreed on."
On November 5, 1818, Gallatin again wrote to Secretary Adams. The following are excerpts from this communication:
With the previous views and feelings of this government I was well acquainted, but their conduct, and indeed that of Spain, in the case to which you allude, may be materially affected by the result of the congress of Aix-laChapelle on the subject of the Spanish colonies. To that point my inquiries have been principally directed; and, although the absence of the Duke de Richelieu and of the Russian minister at this Court has deprived me of my most direct and best means of information, I have reason to believe that the following statement is nearly correct.
Austria and Prussia dislike any mediation or any direct interference. Russia and France press that or any other measure which, without committing them too far, may be favorable to the views of Spain. England is averse to a joint mediation, but does not wish to appear to be the cause of its not being offered. The consequence of their different views is that nothing has as yet been done; and it is generally believed even by Mr. Hauterive, who has the Department of Foreign Affairs during the absence of the Duke of Richelieu, that no formal offer of mediation will be made. But some vote expressive of the wishes of the allied powers may be entered on the protocol, which will be communicated to Spain, and perhaps be published.
Notwithstanding those recollections which connect our Revolution with that of France, and although our republican institutions excite apprehension, we are certainly considered, even by those who detest them most, as a regular and, to use their fashionable designation, as a legitimate government. But our public recognition of the independence of an insurgent colony will shock all their feelings and prejudices.
I thought that the best mode to ward off any effect from that cause, unfavorable to our interest, was to prepare them for the event, and to anticipate that which, from the former proceedings of Congress, appeared probable. I had upon every occasion stated that the general opinion of the people of the United States must irresistibly lead to such a recognition; that it was a question not of interest but of feeling; and that this arose much less from the wish of seeing new republics established than that of the emancipation of Spanish America from Europe. That emancipation was ultimately unavoidable, the charm that had kept that country so long in subjection being now broken, and those colonies being with respect to territory and population out of all proportion with Spain. We had not either directly or indirectly excited the insurrection. It had been the spontaneous act of the inhabitants, and the natural
effect of causes which neither the United States nor Europe could have controlled. We had lent no assistance to either party; we had preserved and intended to preserve a strict neutrality. But no European government could be surprised or displeased that in such a cause our wishes should be in favor of the success of the colonies, or that we should treat as independent powers those amongst them which had in fact established their independence. These sentiments I had expressed in England and in France to the ministers of those and of the other European powers with whom the opportunity offered to discuss the subject; amongst others I had a long conversation with Lord Castlereagh, and since my return here I have repeated them to Mr. Hauterive, with a request that he would communicate them, as my decided opinion, to the Duke de Richelieu at Aix-la-Chapelle.
Without alluding to the feelings of France, he [Mr. Hauterive] expatiated on our happy situation, on our future destinies, and on the want of sufficient motive for putting by a hasty step our certain prospects to any hazard. For if we intended, as I said, to preserve our neutrality, he could not perceive of what utility our nominal recognition could be to the colonies. He considered it also of great importance that the United States should to a certain extent be connected with the European system of politics. Their point of contact was the sea, and there they had been eminently useful to the general cause of social order and of civilization, by maintaining alone and preserving the maritime rights at the time they were crushed or abandoned everywhere else. He would see us with great regret raising in some degree the standard of America against Europe, and thereby enabling our only rival to excite a general jealousy against us. As to the proposed mediation, he said that he disliked it, since it would be unjust and impracticable to support it, as he termed it, by a crusade, and as the proffer of it as a purely friendly office had to him the appearance of an informal recognition of the colonies as independent powers. Yet, if something was not done in common, the whole subject would fall exclusively in the hands of Great Britain. But what else could, in his opinion, be done, unless it was to give some joint wholesome advice to the King of Spain, I could not understand.
I assured him that although the United States never could have joined in any plan having for its basis the return of the colonies to the supremacy of Spain, yet they would have been desirous of knowing with precision the views of the European powers and of communicating their own, in order that their respective measures might have diverged as little as comported with those views. But although it should have been evident that without the consent of the United States nothing efficient or durable could be done in America, they never had been consulted, nor till very lately, and that by England alone, any communication made to them of what was intended or wished on that subject by any of the European powers. Yet more than one year ago, and without having had time to receive instructions from my government, seeing a growing tendency here and in Russia to interfere between Spain and her colonies, I had conversed freely and with perfect candor both with the minister of Russia and with the Duke de Richelieu, deprecating the intended interference, and earnestly inviting a friendly communication of the views of both governments to my own. Nothing of the kind had been done; the course of events had not in the meanwhile been arrested; these had been favorable to the cause of the colonies; and Spain had done nothing tending to retard the decision of the United States. She had neither applied to Mexico or Peru, where she still had the power to do it without any mediation, those liberal measures calculated, as it was presumed in Europe, to reconcile the colonies to her government, nor taken any efficient
steps to arrange her differences with ourselves to our satisfaction. Since there was no motive for the United States to act contrary to what was known everywhere to be the public national opinion, its decision must have been naturally expected. Still, it was extremely desirable that measures should not be adopted by the European powers which should be diametrically opposed to those which might be pursued by my government; and it was for that purpose that, anticipating, though without positive and official information, what these might be, I made this free, though unofficial, communication to him, in order that the sovereigns at Aix-la-Chapelle should not at least come to a final determination without knowing everything which might have some influence over it."
CONFERENCE AT TROPPAU
The years 1819 and 1820, particularly after and following the treaty of Frankfort of June 20, 1819, were such as to give cause for apprehension to all European monarchs including Alexander. There were signs of revolutionary unrest in almost every country in Europe; nevertheless, Alexander held to the plan and to the ideals lying behind the Holy Alliance. But events were soon to happen which changed the entire course of his thought. His emissaries were scattered through Europe preaching democracy to its various peoples in accordance with the various conditions which they found. Sir Robert Gordon writing on April 22, 1819, from Rome stated that "Prince Metternich discovers the existence of Russian agency and intervention in every quarter and every passing event in Europe."
In July 1820, there was a military revolt in Naples which compelled the King of the Two Sicilies to accept the Spanish Constitution of 1812. This act greatly alarmed Austria because by the terms of a secret article in the agreement of June 12, 1815, between Austria and Naples "King Ferdinand IV had bound himself not to allow any changes in the political system of his dominions inconsistent with the ancient monarchical institutions or with the principles adopted by His Austrian Majesty for the internal administration of his Italian provinces.” 59
On October 29, 1820, a conference opened at Troppau. On the afternoon of October 24 Metternich had a conversation with Alexander in which Alexander is reported to have stated that in everything he had done from 1814 to 1818 he had been grievously mistaken, to which statement he added:
So we are at one, Prince, and it is to you that we owe it. You have correctly judged the state of affairs. I deplore the waste of time, which we must try to repair. I am here without any fixed ideas; without any plan; but I bring you a firm and unalterable resolution. It is for your Emperor to use it as he
5 Writings of Gallatin, vol. 11, pp. 75–79. See also Gallatin's letter to Adams of November 21, 1818, ibid., p. 87; same to same, December 10, 1818, ibid., p. 90. 68 Phillips, The Confederation of Europe, p. 198.